This past weekend, I was basking in the sun, snow, shred and schmoozing known as the US Open. For a few days, all talk of Obama, recessions, dumped inventory, closings and layoffs were silenced by the roaring crowds. I got a chance to watch some awesome aerial aerobatics, spend time with friends and test a few 2010 snowboards.
One of the latest boards on my hot list was the Burton Method. This board is quoted as having more technology than the space shuttle, and “If you were handed the keys to Shangri-la, what would you build?”. With tech specs like titanium alloy edges, Alumasuperfly core (say that three times fast), S2 carbon vaporskin, including weaved, striated carbon fiber, the board is crazy light. They even removed the topsheet graphics layer opting to use a thin clearcoat to show the guts. So how much does this marvel of snowboarding cost? Anywhere from $1,300 to $1,600 depending on who you ask.
It appears that the price to snowboard has increasingly ratcheted up over the last few years. Now this is not your standard inflationary percentage, this is a serious increase in technology which results in increased cost. Or is it?
Burton is not alone. There are at least three to four manufacturers with snowboards close to or over the $1,000 mark including Lib Tech, Palmer, Head, Nidecker, and probably a few more that I can’t remember. As the demographics of the “average” snowboarder change (read: get older), so does the board lineup for manufacturers.
One of my buddies made a comment that custom longboard surfboards can run you upwards of $1,000 so for someone who is really into their “performance snowboarding”, it isn’t out of the ordinary to spend that much money on their passion. Another person chimed in on the lift about how the cost is nothing compared to an expensive road bike or mountain bike.
Warning, old man flashback! I remember when with $400 you could outfit yourself from head to toe in boots, bindings, board, jacket and pants. Not anymore, where high performance boards alone routinely cost upwards of $600.
The beauty of the overall situation for the customer is that by cutting through the hype, you can take advantage of the trickle down tech from these mega hoverboards. Things like EST/ICS, asymmetric highbacks, heat molded liners, sintered bases, smoother ratchets, better shapes and lighter cores all came from the top down. Once they were only on the expensive stuff, and now, all this product innovation makes it way to the Average Joe Shred. Amazing boards can be found for under $400 that will take you anywhere that you can dream from rail to pipe to pow.
So how’d the Method ride? It was surprisingly a fun ride. I took the 155 and the conditions were classic spring VT (ice in the AM and slush in the PM). It handled everything well, but was a bit too dead compared to the liveliness that I’ve come to expect from Burton. The best way to easily describe it is: a Burton T6 and a Vapor had a baby, but the Palmer Crown LE snuck in for a quickie too.
In the air, it was ridiculously light, like hit a kicker and totally overshoot the landing, light. After a few runs, I got a handle on the feel and started getting really comfortable with the board. I did a few rock taps and log jibs with no problems. You have to test the durability right? The new shape (which is really an old shape, using those blunt tips and tails) really works for me. I’ve been moving to smaller boards with a more blunted tip/tail shape so this fits in that category. According to the Demo Tent Dude, it’s lighter than a Chopper kids board (that’s with bindings), whoa. I’d say my biggest issue was fearing that someone would steal it, so I had to bring it into the bar with me to keep it safe.
My parting words? Let the AIG investment banker buy the $1,300 boards with their bonuses. In a year or two, you’ll see some of the same innovation in your $400 park deck. That’s probably the best ROI you’re guaranteed to see in the next few years. At the same time, I’m already scheming to see what contacts that I can hit up to secure one for next season.